I got to thinking about your post. I agree that the “desire for a Man” with a capital M is real. It is certainly real for me. Which then got me thinking more. (a very dangerous thing indeed!) I started to think about drag and the exaggerated gendered performance so often attributed to male drag of femininity-aka Drag Queens (btw they are fabulous and I love them). Why is it that Jaime in the books, despite a lot of my own misgivings, continues to attract me? I don’t agree with a lot of his world-view and could imagine myself, very much like Claire, arguing into the wee hours of the morning with him about everything from spousal-corporal punishment, to abortion to native american rights. and YET. Methinks that after many hours of squabbling I would most likely succumb, again as Claire does (!), to his many “manly” delights because duh.
So. what is a young, outspoken, radical feminist to do with these desires, both conflicting and complementary?
1. As Terry has said, and I agree, desire isn’t wrong, it just isn’t. As long as your desires are being returned by a consensual adult, you’re good! Okay, phew! I can still be a loud and proud feminist and want to be “taken in the woods by a guy with a sword”. Awesome. My bodice is ready to be ripped and all that.
2. Celebrating hyper-masculinity can actually be a subversive and yes, feminist act. Yes, thats right ladies. Dressing up in your apron at 6pm and surprising your man with nothing else on but oven mitts while uttering the phrase, “How was your day honey? I’ve been so lonely for you” is totally awesome and cool and utterly playful. By playing with these gendered- stereotypes we reveal how utterly ridiculous and pliable they are.
3. DRAG! Lets get dirty. Drag is a celebration of gender as a performance-as something we put on each day just like eye-liner and lipstick. It allows us to see the incredible range of playfulness gender-performance can afford us if we just acknowledge that its an act! It isn’t natural…I didn’t come out of the womb with an uncontrollable urge to wear pink. Nope. But now? I love pink, its awesome. I’m lucky enough to feel really good about looking fem AND to have been born in this body.
To me, Jaime in the books (and to a large extent in the show) is a subtle example of male-drag performance for the heterosexual female audience. Drag is all about finding how appearance and the stuff one chooses to wear (sword, vest, shirtless when injured, dirt, blood, ale, whisky, vest) along with mannerisms and “persona” combine to give an often extreme example of a hyper-gendered body. Now, I’m not saying Jamie Fraser is a drag queen. No. But I am saying that his Man-liness (both in appearance and in character traits) are so sharply defined, and unabashedly celebrated in the books, that it could certainly be viewed as a very artful exaggeration of the male gender. Which is how I choose to understand and frame my desire for both him AND for what you brought up Rachel.
Don’t forget to have fun with gender…
I think that one of the main things that the feminist movement got wrong was the focus on gender roles. I think it completely distracted the moment. I want to be equal to a man AS A WOMAN, not as a faux man. I don’t have to be like a man to be equal to him. I grew up in a time and place where marriages and homes were like battle fields over issues like changing an equal number of diapers. Such nonsense. Is that really a hill to die on?
I am hardly a traditional woman, and I consider myself a proud feminist. But I am going to end up taking care of kids and home, more than my husband, because those things come more naturally to me, because I AM A WOMAN. He, on the either hand is going to take care of another list of tasks and responsibilities that come more naturally to him because HE IS A MAN. As long as the overall workload of our lives is equally balanced, then I could give a shit about who cooks more.
I don’t want to be married to a faux woman, I want to be married to a man. If I wanted to be with a woman, I would do that. I like men. I like men who are somewhat traditional in their male attributes. That does not mean a caveman. That does not mean I am subservient. It means an equal partnership between a strong, independent, fully realized, intelligent man and woman, who see each other as equals. the rest of it is flotsam and jetsam. That is what resonates for me about Jamie and Claire. It is a partnership of equals.